Housing Starts Have Been Singing The Blues

An uptick in hiring is leading to more optimism about the economy. But housing remains stuck in a funk. New figures on housing starts are released Thursday. Morning Edition has a musical preview in this Planet Money report.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And the U.S. economy has picked up momentum. Hiring is up and unemployment is falling. But housing just can't find its groove. Fresh numbers on housing starts to come out tomorrow, which brings us to our last word in business. As we wonder whether we'll be singing the housing blues, or rocking out to some good news, NPR's Planet Money team has this musical preview.

ROBERT SMITH, BYLINE: The thing about housing is it's not just a number.

ZOE CHACE, BYLINE: It's an emotional thing. People sing about their houses.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OUR HOUSE")

MADNESS: (Singing) Our house, in the middle of our...

CHACE: It's even a compliment to call someone a house.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BRICK HOUSE")

THE COMMODORES: (Singing) Ow, she's a brick house.

SMITH: That's why housing starts is one of those numbers that can just break your heart. The construction industry wants the number to go up. New homes means more work for them.

CHACE: But if you're selling, you want that number to go down - fewer new homes, so you can sell your set a higher price. But remember...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME")

LUTHER VANDROSS: (Singing) A house is not a home when there's no one there to hold you tight and no one there...

SMITH: Oh, yeah. Housing starts and be a lonely number...

CHACE: ...without someone to share it with. I'm Zoe Chace.

SMITH: Robert Smith, NPR News.

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